tv [untitled] March 17, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm EDT
bill which we feel is a perversion of the american way of life and a great blow at the right of dominion over private property that has been the genesis of our greatness. >> you know, over the years i've heard say people say that richard russell could be president of the united states and it always struck me as odd because he was basically a white separatist in all this and was very much a leader against this whole civil rights bill. why was he so respected? >> well, he had all kinds of other -- he'd done all kinds of other things. the food program for children in schools, all kinds of other -- in every other way he was very much like humphrey. they agreed on almost everything. it was just civil rights. he wanted to stay in the democratic party, so i think that he became sort of the dixie crat spokesman in the democratic party when some of the others wanted to leave at times. >> what party was strom thurman
in that debate and who saw the debate in those days? >> he was a democratic senator at that point, i believe. and he was -- it was seen on -- i believe it was cbs. i think eric severeid was on cbs, he was the narrater, eric severeid, of that debate. this is the problem i have of all this whole thing i was trying to do a 15-minute segment on how the civil rights law was passed and there were no cameras, and i had to do the whole thing without ever being in the room and the whole thing took place in the room. and one of the finds was the debate. people couldn't see what was going on, there was a clock on tv showing how long the filibuster was going on. it really had public attention. and this debate was a way to bring the whole thing to the people on tv, so it was on national tv. >> i went in and looked at the vote totals and i think people might be surprised how it came out. in the house the democratic
party voted 61% for it and 39% against it. the republican party voted 80% for it and 20% against it. and in the senate, the democratic party voted 69% for it and 31% against it and the republican party voted 82% in favor and 18% against it. >> yeah. >> so, it's so much different than it is today as far as the break-up of the party. >> yeah. >> why did you choose -- why was the civil rights bill so important to your documentary? >> well, i think it's one of the most important pieces of legislation in the 20th century, besides that humphrey thought it was one of his biggest accomplishments. i have to agree. >> in his life. >> in his career. he would consider his family his biggest accomplishment, but in his career it was. it's very much like the health care bill. it was the same kind of struggle, you know, the same kind of maneuvering had to be done to get it done. and he just -- the republican party at that point had had a fairly good record on civil rights. the problem was in the
democratic party. it was the dixie crats that was the problem. the coalition he had to form to get it passed with the republicans, he needed them to get it passed. it wasn't so much that the democratic party was against it. it was just that one segment. and the other problem was they only needed 51% to get the bill passed but they needed 67 votes to stop the filibuster and that was the real problem and now, of course, i think it's 60, but it was 67 in those days and they knew if they got 67 votes passing the bill would be difficult. >> why did it take you 11 years or nine or ten years or whatever it was? >> we did 52 interviews in 10 cities, 120 hours, it took four years at the beginning and i got connected to another pbs station which will go unnamed and spent two years with them and it just wasn't working at all. it go to be now 2008 by this time and so i just left and i went home and bought myself a mac and started editing myself with another editor as i said, and we edited the film and then about -- in 2009 sometime bill
grant from wnet got interested, and, you know, the rest is the process of getting it on tv at that point. pbs wasn't interested for some reason. they liked it but they wouldn't do it for some reason, we've never really been told, but american public television was and that's another producing organization for public tv, they were really excited about it. and at this date it's shown -- it's broadcast 600 times in a couple hundred cities. >> each individual public station had to decide if they wanted to put it on. >> that's right. that's right, it was n. >> here's hubert humphrey when he was selected vice president with linden johnson. >> we looked to an equal partnership and the first few days we thought it would be that way. we would be part of everything, most dramatically humphrey's break with johnson in a cabinet
meeting on vietnam. >> only days into the new administration, the vietcong attacked an american base and johnson called a cabinet meeting to sanction the bombing of north vietnam. >> johnson was not looking for advice but validation and it was actually johnson looking for ratification of what he already decided, he goes around the room asking all these people, his advisers to tell him what they think about this decision to launch these attack and humphrey announces he thinks it's a mistake. >> johnson was furious with him. and the bombing of the north began. >> congress gave us this authority, in all this 1964. to do whatever may be necessary, that's pretty far-reaching. the sky's the limit. >> while there may have been no limits on johnson's expansion of the vietnam war, there would now
be limits on his vice president. >> i knew him intensely for those years of the '60s and that was the most tortured period of his life as he was trying to be vice president, serving the president who was taking us to war in vietnam. even if he had misgivings as an independent thinker. >> after their public disagreement, humphrey was frozen out of all discussion of vietnam. johnson cut off his privileges, reduced his staff, censored his speeches, tapped his phones, and ordered his own staff not to speak to him. >> vice president of the united states. how deep was that split? how far did -- how far did the president go with his own vice president? >> well, you didn't want to be on johnson's bad side as many people know. it was largely about vietnam, but, of course, he expanded that behavior into the rest of his relationship with humphrey. he still had a relationship with
him because of the great society programs and all the rest, but was cold and he was shut out of any discussion of vietnam and vietnam was, of course, the -- it became the main issue of the johnson presidency at one point. he was pretty cold with him. he basically wanted him to know that he does not disagree with the president about anything. >> how outspoken was hubert humphrey at any point in his life about the split that those two had? >> humphrey was not someone who held grudges or really talked about anyone else. he would have pretty much said, well, that's part of being vice president, i knew what i was getting into, that's what he would have said. in fact, he did say that at times. bill moyers interviewed him in 1976 and actually on the dvd there's a 15-minute conversation between moyers and humphrey, a cut from the bill moyers journal, and as a bonus thing, and he, you know, he just --
they talked about johnson and they both agreed that he could be -- you know, it was almost like abusive relationship with people. he would be very kind and loving and then you'd do something wrong and then he'd shut you out for the next two months and then he'd come back and so you never knew where you stood with him. >> by the way, if somebody wants this documentary, can they buy it? >> shop pbs.org or 1-800-shoppbs. >> and how much is it? >> it's pretty much everywhere. >> here is -- as everybody knows at least our age that hubert humphrey ran for president in '68, but here's this difficulty of going in and out of vietnam and what he sees from your documentary. >> position to the war grew and since humphrey was defending it, humphrey lost his credibility with not only his traditional
liberal constituencies but many others as well. >> humphrey, remember, had positioned himself as the champion of the liberal wing of the democratic party. and it appeared to us that he traded that in for power. >> he seemed very quickly almost like a caricature of himself. given what he believed and how he was by nature, by temperament versus what people were seeing every night on their television screen. >> 300 body bags coming back every week. things that i don't think johnson or humphrey anticipated. the endlessness of it. the being lied to about the pentagon about a few more bombs >> by the end of humphrey's
first year as vice president, there were nearly 200,000 american troops on the ground in vietnam. but there was another war going on inside the country. and while humphrey was sent to the front lines, johnson slipped into his own private hell in the white house. >> the war was taking its toll upon the pe country. a war that no one understood and so many people were bitterly opposed to, a war that was never really explained to the american people. but whatever the reason for the upheaval in american society, the fact is we were experiencing a veritable revolution. >> by december of 1967, there were nearly 400,000 american troops in southeast asia. and humphrey was sent on yet another trip to vietnam. but this time it would be
different as humphrey was determined to see the war close up. >> they gave us a dog and pony show with film and slides. just a wholly, you know, propaganda proposition. we went to the military hospital at danang. humphrey insisted on going into the intensive care ward and he spent about an hour and a half with the boys who were dying. yeah. and seeing on the ground what was happening to our kids and seeing how corrupt the vietnamese were and how quite willing they were to let us stand there forever and do the fighting. he came back changed, and we wrote a very, very strong report to johnson telling him that we got to get out of there. johnson called a cabinet meeting and asked humphrey to report on vietnam and he gave humphrey a
note which said hubert, give short, upbeat report. progress good. then sit down and shut up, lyndon. >> how long ago did you do the interview with ted van dyke? >> that would have been about 2003 or 2004. it's been a while. >> he was emotional about -- >> very emotional. >> did you ever ask him why? >> again, that was the longest interview we did i think was about 3 1/2 hours, he was emotional all the way through. he was emotional because he saw the suffering and he didn't -- he couldn't go in. i couldn't go into the room where people were dying, i saw people with arms missing and legs missing. and ted was against the war the whole time and he had a hard time with the suffering. >> was hubert humphrey ever dishonest with the american people about his feelings about the war? >> i don't think so. i think that he said he would
rather be wrong than a hypocrite, and i think he believed what he was saying. i think when he was for the war, he was for the war and, you know, like it or not and whether you agreed with him or not, he wasn't lying about it. he really was for it. when he became against it, it got a lot tougher and he didn't speak out as much. i think he was careful about what he said. but i don't think he ever lied directly. and i know that's hard for some people, they believe he was lying all the time. but that was part of the problem -- part of the reason for doing the documentary was to show another side of this because everybody just remembers humphrey as someone who is licking linden lyndon johnson's boots all the time and they didn't uer in. >> and when they ran in '68 there's a plank in the platform that you talk about in your documentary. >> the anti-war convention
delegates would be led by eugene mccarthy and senator george mcgovern of south dakota. to win the general election, humphrey needed their support. mcgovern was on board, but mccarthy hes state mccarthy hesitated. >> mccarthy told me in early august prior to the convention that he would be able to come out for me somewhere around the middle of september. after all, gene and i myself had had a rather long friendship, and we were hoping that friendship could survive. >> time was running out, and the only way that humphrey could avoid violence in chicago was to bring together johnson and the anti-war democrats. with only days remaining until the convention, humphrey and nixon were invited to the lbj ranch. while nixon's visit was well publicized, johnson forbid humphrey to tell the press.
humphrey took the opportunity to present johnson with his own proposal to end the war and unite the party. >> i discussed with him the necessity of phasing out, reducing our commitments, reducing our forces, reducing our bombing, and leaving the struggle to the people in vietnam themselves and trying to negotiate our way out of it. he frankly was furious with me. i remember what he said, he said, you know, i have two son-in-laws over there. and your proposal would leave them at the mercy of the enemy, and he became very personal about it. >> working against the clock, humphrey wrote a compromise peace plan that was agreed to by all sides, including the president's closest advisers. >> then hubert being vice president as well as a presidential candidate had
declare declared what the white house, the president squelched it. >> and he insisted that the resolution that we had replaced by a very pro-vietnam war resolution. >> by then we knew that hubert wanted a peace plank in the platform to end the war, and we knew that, and we knew why it didn't happen. >> i don't like talking about it, it's so painful. >> the last one walter mondale. the footage that we saw at the ranch, you say that lyndon johnson didn't let him talk about the fact that they had a meeting. why? and where did that footage come from? >> that footage came from the lbj library. johnson had this -- he had a -- for historians it turned out a nice thing to have, but he had someone follow him around all the time with a camera and at the end of the month they would have the president's month and they would edit something and show it to him, the previous
month, so those were outtakes from the month he spent with the two of them. it's hard to get inside the mind of lyndon johnson, hard to know. almost to the end of the election was probably more interested in nixon becoming president than humphrey. and near as we can tell the reason is, and michael beschloss has done a lot of research about it, he didn't want to be the president who lost the war and he thought if humphrey won, he'd end the war, and he thought nixon would continue it or find a different end and keep his legacy intact. and that didn't change until late in the film that nixon did the thing with the vietnamese government that johnson finally came around and he realized he might lose texas. >> here's some footage from your documentary that shows that democrats themselves even heckled hubert humphrey and teddy kennedy. >> yes.
>> with a small group of advisers, humphrey returned to his home in rural minnesota to pick up the pieces and plan his campaign. >> i remember so well in september of '68 after the convention, the whole environment of politics had come apart. i mean, it had become polluted and destroyed and violent. the president's popularity at a low point. the war in vietnam exceedingly unpopular. the democratic national committee was -- i was behind in the polls, people were leaving me like i was a contagious disease. >> he was in the administration that lost control and when it came to the issue of vietnam, he didn't have control of that.
>> absolutely intense, awful pressure. there never was a day when you could relax. >> i believe that the republican candidate -- i believe that the republican candidate owes it to the people to come out of the shadows. >> if you one time have had human excrement thrown at you by a protester, it makes every other protester the enemy.
>> how badly was he defeated in '68 by richard nixon? >> well, he lost by one half of one percent of the popular vote, but he lost the electoral election by more, because he had some areas he didn't carry. but the popular vote was really close. literally less than one half of one percent. >> during your documentary we hear hubert humphrey's voice a lot and don't see him. where does that come from? >> i think we dealt with the audiotapes of humphrey, a lot of it came from when he did his autobiography, he recorded on to cassette tapes and sent them to norman sherman who worked for him and they worked it into an au autobiograp autobiography. he spoke more than he wrote. he wrote inside the senate, but he didn't write outside the senate very much, so he was
better at speaking, so he spoke into these tapes and sent them to norman sherman. and thankful that the tapes are still around and that's what i used and we converted them to a digital format. >> here's how you treated his world after he was defeated. >> in 1969, humphrey was out of public office for the first time in nearly 25 years. he returned to minnesota to teach. but within two years, he was returned to the senate by the largest majority of his political career. after an unsuccessful run for president in 1972, he began his final battle, cancer. then in november of 1977, his colleagues gathered together in the first joint tribute to a single senator in u.s. history.
>> hubert, old friend, we asked you here so we could tell you we love you. >> mr. speaker, knowing full well the dangers of what i'm about to do, i yield as much time as he wishes to consume to the senior senator from minnesota. >> and i know where i'm standing, i'm standing where the president of the united states gives his state of the union address. my goodness. how i longed for that opportunity.
>> he was optimistic beliefs in reforming america. and he loved people. there was just a palpable humanity in that man. >> at christmas, his family installed a toll-free 800 number in his home so he could call hundreds of friends and say good-bye. and on friday, the 13th of january, 1978, hubert humphrey died peacefully at his lake home in minnesota. as his body lie in state in washington, 60,000 average americans braved freezing cold temperatures to say good-bye. >> 66 years old? >> 66, right. >> lindl lyndon johnson was 64 e
died. how sick was he, and how did he know -- i do remember -- well, i remember the speech and we weren't in business until a year later, so we didn't televise it. was that televised at the time? >> yeah, that was a house camera that they had, you know, it was one of the robotic cameras, kind of rigid, but it was inside the house, yeah. >> how sick was he? >> well, he died two months later and he had cancer four or five years, and he was sick. he had the remarkable spirit and one of the things i wanted to capture in the film. he didn't take tylenol until the end. he wanted to live through his death and the whole process and he just kept this attitude up and he was in pain all the time and no one knew it. he was amazing. amazing spirit. one thing i should tell you about the funeral that's interesting that i couldn't really get into the film. richard nixon since watergate had been out of washington had
not been back. humphrey called him on christmas and said you're coming back to washington for my funeral and that's how you getting back into washington. >> did he? >> and he said no. and humphrey said, look, i'm a dying man and this is a dying wish and you're going to come back, and he came back, and he was at the funeral and you see it at the end of the film. he said no president, i don't care what he's done, should be banished from washington. you need to be here, and talk about forgiveness, you know? and he's dying. that's says something to his spirit, too. >> got one audio clip because it comes from the book, recording that he did, where he was talking about the way lyndon johnson treated him and we're about out of time, but let's just listen to this and i'll ask you about it. >> and it would be appropriate for me to invite my friends from the twin cities out for a boat ride. so, i told him -- i gave them the instructions. told them to meet me at the marine dock at 5:00.
then i put in my request for the boat. i was asked who was to be on it -- we always had to file a manifest, and i filed the names of those that were to be on the boat with me. including, of course, their profession or their occupation. this was called for by the president. you didn't just take the boat out. you had to file a list of who was there, their names and addressed and their occupation or profession. well, about 4:30 i got a call from marvin watson at the white house and he said that i couldn't have the boat. and i said, well, this is going to be very embarrassing to me. he said, well, this is the order of the president. i was very -- i was most upset and frankly damn mad. and i said, marvin, i'm going to be embarrassed. these are people from minnesota, and they'll never understand how i could invite them and -- on a boat trip like this and all at
once have to cancel it. he said, well, there's not a thing i can do about it. the president has said no boat. >> and also there's another story that he tells about how he was only allowed to use prop planes in the united states and he could use jet planes if he went overseas. >> yes. there's a whole set of rules. and johnson, you know, you have to wonder because it's almost as if he allowed him to plan this whole thing and then pulled the plug at the last minute to make it more difficult for him, but it's really hard to tell. but he -- he never allowed him to come to camp david. was never allowed to camp david and never was on air force one. and one of the thing that president carter did in humph y humphrey's last few months, and he had him at camp david and he sent air force one. and wasn't treated as a vice president basically. but i have to say i think
probably anybody who would have been lyndon johnson's vice president would have had to deal with that and people told me that mccarthy become vice president, he was the second choice, gene mccarthy, that he would have been just been basically would have murdered him. it would have been awful. >> where were you born? >> minneapolis, north minneapolis. >> where did you go to school? >> in north minneapolis high school, i left -- i -- maybe a month after high school, i left with a road band, on the road with a rock 'n' roll band for seven years. >> what were you doing? >> plays bass and traveled a lot, and played music throughout my life really and did a lot of other things and then went back in the '90s, in my 40s went through college and went right through a master's program at hamlin, i just decided to go back. kids were getting older. >> how many documentaries have you produced in your life? >> well, i worked on two for court tv, in 1996 i was an associate producer to another producer.
then i did one -- i co-produced one for hgtv which was called restore america with bob villa and he went around different states and did restoration projects. the first two for hgtv were the trial for reichman and the scottsboro boys and so i got a pretty good initiation. in 1999 i started my first film, independent film, which was called "the heart of bassett place" and it's about an african-american settlement in minneapolis, a fabulous story, and while i did that, at the same moment i started the humphrey film and then a couple months later i did one on gene mccarthy, and then i've done installation museums for president clinton and vice president mondale for presentations for their speeches and i've done other consulting work along the way but mostly it's been humphrey for the last ten years. >> again, if somebody wants to see the two-hour documentary "the art of compromise, hubert humphrey" where do they get it? the >>